10 Hilariously Crazy Bad McDonald’s Happy Meal Toys
The toys found in Happy Meals have long transcended a marketing tactic aimed at kids. In fact, some of them are still so sought after that full-grown adults are logging onto eBay and charging far more than the price of a four-piece McNuggets for items that have never left their plastic prisons. And earlier this year, The Beanie Bubble reminded us that people once stormed McDonald’s locations across the country for pint-sized versions of the beloved plushies.
But not all Happy Meal toys are created equal. A bunch were actually weird as hell and destined for landfills from the jump, including these strange creations…
Halloween McNugget Buddies
The Halloween McNugget Buddies were costume-wearing McNuggets that looked more like melted Mr. Potato Head imitators. They hold some emotional nostalgia for those who were around for the first release, but when McDonald’s re-issued them for a younger generation, the Buddies were DOA.
Ronald McDonald Glove Puppet
This plastic glove featured a horrifying drawing of Ronald McDonald, and was exclusively for those who celebrated their birthday at the PlayPlace. It’s hard to figure out a real use for the glove that wouldn’t put you on some sort of law-enforcement registry. That said, one set of the rubber gloves is currently housed at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.
American Idol Toys
If you were to guess which brands had multiple Happy Meal promotional tie-ins, American Idol probably would be at the bottom of the list. But the famous singing competition teamed up with McDonald’s for two rounds of toys, the first of which featured a batch of undesirable gimmicks, like a strange clapping machine, an ill-fitting headset and a knockoff iPod that played a few seconds of the Idol theme song.
Michael Jordan Fitness Fun
Many have argued that Happy Meal toys are nothing more than a cynical attempt by McDonald’s to entice children into developing unhealthy eating habits. To combat this, McDonald’s teamed up with NBA legend Michael Jordan for a line of fitness-oriented items, including a flimsy jump rope, a janky stopwatch and frisbee emblazoned with Jordan’s face. All very sad for gym class, let alone a Happy Meal.
McDonald’s Little Gardener Garden Tools
Over the years, several McDonald’s franchisees have been slapped with fines for child-labor violations. Their thinly veiled notion that kids need to get to work was made evident by the “Little Gardener” Happy Meal, which provided children everywhere with tiny spades, buckets and seeds. Finish your fries and get out in those fields, kids!
The most important word in the phrase “Happy Meal toy” is, in fact, “toy.” It’s the object every child expects when they order a Happy Meal. So you’d think that when the chain teamed up with E.T. in 1982, it would offer some highly collectible toy of the freakish alien at the center of Steven Spielberg’s iconic film. You’d be wrong. They gave away four limited-edition posters instead.
Ronald McDonald Sunglasses
Another horrifying implementation of Ronald McDonald involved his terrifying visage and spread arms atop a pair of sunglasses. Other mascots like Grimace and Birdie got their own pair of shades, too. Not only are the frames ugly, but being released in 1988, they probably contained leftover lead paint as well.
‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’ Girl Toys
“Boy toy, or girl toy?” is an oft-repeated question over staticky drive-thru speakers the world over. It’s also a question that starts a journey of self-discover for many. But long before the conversation went mainstream, McDonald’s sought to smash the binary with toys that covered the gender spectrum for their promotional tie-in to The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Of course, they failed miserably because the same girl who is going to want a Spider-Man toy is going to want an action figure or toy car, not an unflattering headband that’s sure to give her a migraine.
McDonald’s once again tried to implement healthy eating habits in their youngest patrons via 1989’s Bedtime Collection, but the only toy it included was a glow-in-the-dark Ronald McDonald figurine. Everything else were the fixings needed to get ready for a good night’s sleep — e.g., a plastic cup, a toothbrush and toothpaste and a wash mitt. Needless to say, such practical items aren’t terribly exciting for kids.
Tickle Feather Sponge
Among the very first toys offered by McDonald’s wasn’t a toy at all, but a torture device. The Tickle Feather Sponge was a foam cutout in the shape of a feather with the express purpose of tickling your friends with it. The even funnier part? This particular type of foam was notoriously abrasive.